Sunday, 30 August 2015

Midori Traveler's Notebook Review

Hi! I've scheduled another review post for the the two weeks I am going to the US! Without further ado, let's move on to the post! Warning, I took plenty of photos! :)

--


For those of you who hadn't heard of the Midori Traveler's Notebook (MTN), it is basically a piece of leather wrapped around a few notebooks and secured with a rubber band. It is that simple. It is also very versatile. You can switch out the notebooks anytime you want, or just switching the placements of it. You can add in things to create your own unique combination with accessories like pouches, folders, or even DIY your own. The notebooks also comes in many different types: monthly, weekly, blank, dotted or lines. 


Without the notebooks inside, the cover is just a piece of leather. I bought the blue MTN in Shanghai, and some accessories too. I forgot how much it was. 


The top. The round thing hides the knot of the rubber band. 


The bottom. I find the black string too long so I wound it around the blue band, instead of cutting it off. I'm not sure how useful the black string is.. but just in case...


The inside. The leather itself is 2mm thick. It comes with only the blue rubber band, but I added in the black rubber band to match the double strap of my fauxdoris. The traditional midori puts its knot closure in the back. You can feel the knot when you are writing in the last notebook but otherwise, it stays out of the way. The inside feels a little like suede. 


The back of the cover. I love how the Traveler's notebook is etched properly and deeply enough. I often see substandard stamping in leather goods, and it doesn't look nice at all! 


What I had in my MTN: 

-3 blank notebooks 
-1 pouch
-2 DIY Dashboards
-2 charms 


How it looks when it's all full and decorated. I use this notebook as my creativity outlet and scribbles. 


A close up of the charms. I bought them from PaperGeekMY


A look from the top. You can see how I secure the 3 notebooks in the midori. It is also rather full now. I can add an additional notebook, but it might bulge out and the rubber band will injure the notebook when it closes. 


A side view. 

Pros of the MTN: 
  • Good for planning and jotting down notes on the quick
  • The size (regular) is similar to a clutch purse, which is a very nice shape in a bag. 
  • Being able to switch notebooks around is a big plus 
  • I'm a big fan of leather products! Love the smell of it!

Cons of the MTN: 
  • Can only fit up to 3 inserts comfortably.  
  • The knot at the back isn't well-designed. 
I love my Midori even though I've bought 4 other Fauxdoris that don't have the cons of the MTN, for the sole reason that the Midori is my first foray into the world of Traveller's Notebook. I probably would not purchase any more Midori; yay for Fauxdori!! 

Online stores where you can purchase a MTN: 

If you know anywhere else that sells Midori Traveller's Notebook, please comment below! :)

--

I hope this helps if you're on the fence about whether to invest in an MTN. It may not be cheap, but having a notebook system that works for you is important! I've switched between many different types, from notebooks to ring planners to electronic planners and none has worked out as well as my Midori systems. I used one for my crafting, one for daily planning, one for writing, and one for school. I'm currently using the blue one as my creativity outlet and doodles. 

Don't worry, I hadn't neglected my Hobonichi at all. ;) 

Thanks for reading! Have a great Sunday! 

Love,
Jennifer

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Reivew: Pilot Kakuno Fountain Pen

Hi there! Thanks for dropping by my blog today! This post is done weeks ago because I am on a two-weeks trip to the US! I'll definitely have more to share when I get back! In the meantime, you can follow me on Instagram, where I am still very much present!

--



Today I'll be reviewing a Pilot Kakuno Fountain Pen. It is the very first fountain pen that I owned. I got it from JetPens, together with some cartridge refills. It is USD$13.75 each. If you want to buy locally, you can get it from NBC bookstore (there's one at JEM) at about SGD$16.50? I forgot the exact price. But it is cheaper than buying from JetPens, especially if you include the shipping fees.


A first look at the fountain pen. It is cutely packaged, meant to appeal to children. Hence the smiley on the metal nib. It comes in a wide variety of colors, so there's no lack for choice.  There are two kinds of nibs: fine and medium. I prefer fine tips, the finer the better. I did some research for beginners-friendly pen, and the reviews of this pen is pretty good. The price is another persuading factor. I don't think I'd want to pay a hundred dollars just to try a fountain pen. 

I bought some cartridges to go with the pen. JetPens has a list of recommended refills for this product. No worries about buying a refill that doesn't fit!


The pack comes with the pen itself, and a black ink cartridge. The body of the pen is made of plastic, and half of it is transparent, so you can see it when your ink is running low. The transparent part only comes with the white-bodied Kakuno FPs. The black/dark-grey ones don't have it. They have a dark-grey translucent body that doesn't allow me to see through it as well. Rather odd, I think. 


How to put the ink cartridge into your pen
I've photographed the direction in which the cartridge is supposed to be inserted in the photo. Just push it straight down, no twisting, and that's it! Easy Peasy. 


Sometimes it takes a while before the ink flows down to the nib. I have a notepad handy to scribble on after I refill the pen. If the ink still doesn't flow, I'll shake it a little, and watch the ink runs down through the transparent plastic. Like I said, this transparent body is really handy. It took a over ten minutes before the ink comes out for my first pen, so don't panic if it doesn't seem to work at first! 

Another thing I love about this pen: it is amazingly sturdy. Especially for a fountain pen. I've dropped it twice and it has held up well. I've got ink pens whose tips crapped out on me after I dropped it once, so for a fountain pen not to do the same, I'm very happy. :)


A look at the pens and the various ink colors I got.
The orange capped one is the dark-bodied pen I mentioned earlier, the one without the convenient transparent body. I should probably have stuck with the white-bodied ones. 

I got the traditional colors, black and blue, and also sepia ink. The sepia is less brown and more red than I'd like, and it is also more expensive too. I'd skip it next time I am buying ink refills. 


A look at the ink cartridges I bought. The black and blue inks are considerably cheaper than the sepia ink. A box of 12 black inks cost USD$4, while the box of 5 sepia inks cost USD$3.55.

I really enjoy writing with this pen. At first I thought that the pen would be too thick to be comfortable for me. But I have adjusted just fine. It is also smooth to write with, and the nib isn't as picky as I had imagined. I can write in any direction I want (even if the smiley is not facing up) and the ink will still flow out. There is no learning curve for this pen at all! That is amazing, I think. 

The one downside of it is that there is no clip to this pen. I can't clip it to my fauxdoris, which is a shame, although it does fine being secured with the rubber bands. Otherwise, it is indeed a very good beginners-friendly fountain pen. 

--

Do you own a fountain pen? If no, are you willing to give it a try? If yes, which fountain pen do you own? I am very much a beginner when it comes to FPs, so it would be nice to hear opinions from someone else! 

Thanks for reading! And a happy Sunday! 

Jennifer

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Travel Preparations for a Crafter

Hi! I'll be on a flight to the Washington DC tonight! This trip has been in the planning for a few months and I am incredibly excited about it! It is also the first trip I'll be going with my sister, for slightly more than 2 weeks. Hopefully we don't drive each other crazy. ;)

This blog post will be on something related: Travel Preparations for a Crafter! As you know, travel preparations for a crafter is different from any other traveller. There are many things you have to look out for, as well as prepare! Here, I will be sharing what I do before I travel.

--


Before I was a crafter, my luggage was much lighter before and after my trip and I probably don't spend so much either. Well, crafts and hobbies really bulk up your expenditure like nothing! I can personally attest to that. One good thing about travelling now is that everything holds possibility. I see art and inspiration everywhere I go. And when I shop, I look for things that I can use in my crafting in the future! Shopping for clothes now seems rather mundane. :)

The things I do before my trip has certainly changed too. I am more craft-focused now, and you'll definitely not catch me outside without a notebook at the pen!


Check out Local Craft Shops
One of the first things I do when I have a destination in mind. I will google local craft shops like yarn shops, art and craft shops, bookstores, and stationery stores. So far I find London a really good place for yarn and books and Bangkok a place for stationery. I'm hoping that New York will prove to be a better place than both of them! 

Contact stores for an Arrangement
I did this for my trip this time. I needed for yarn for my blanket so I contacted PurlSoho to have my order put aside for me. I don't want to be missing any skeins I need when I reach there! You can certainly do this too if you want any store to help you with an order. I think most would be happy to help!


Deciding what comes along on your Trip
A crafter is never far away from her crafting supplies. That is true. I always have my passport sized fauxdori with me wherever I go. It has certainly come in handy plenty of time when I needed it. Plus it is a perfect size for my passport. :) For my US trip I am lightening my load by bringing only my Hobonichi Cousin, which I used as a diary, and my blue MTN. I filled it with selected inserts that I'll use over the next few weeks and left the rest at home. I also brought a pencil case with markers and pens. I am cutting down on the supplies I bring because I intend to bring a lot home. :) I need to save space and weight. I also know that on this trip I'll be on-the-go most of the time, so I won't be sitting still and drawing/painting. Thus, no point in bringing those!

Sorry for my messy luggage. It'll look less messy when I filled it to the brim, trust me. 

Bringing back your new Art Materials
This is important!! There must be a way to bring back what your bought safely, especially if you are bringing back inks or glass bottles. I always travel with a huge bag full of ziploc bags. These really comes in handy when you have a lot of yarn to compress together. It was how I brought my tiny mountain of yarn home from London in March! Ziploc is also useful in ensuring that inks won't leak out and mess up your entire luggage space. I wrap my inks in plastic bags, put a rubber band under the lid to secure it. You can also masking tape the lid to seal it. And if it's made of glass, make sure you wedge the bottle someone securely so it can't move or bounce around at all. I always tuck it in between bags of clothes.

This is scribbled down by my boyfriend. As you can see, the writing is completely different from the shopping list I wrote! 
Start a Travel Journal 
This has become another habit for me since I began making a yearbook. I needed a way to jot down all the sights I've seen and things I've eaten and what I'd done everyday so a travel journal was a good idea. You won't forget anything at all if you'd written them down. Of course, provided that you were diligent in keeping track of these activities. I usually do them at night, in bullet form if I'm particularly tired. I also keep all sorts of keepsakes from the trip, like my air tickets, brochures and any little things that I find. Keep all these in a bag (I use another ziploc bag) so it won't be scattered and messy after. 

--

These are the things I do before I go on a trip. Of course there're many other preparations to be made, like googling how to get there, and planning your crafting itinerary. But these 5 things are what I always do before I travel. I certainly wasn't doing these a year ago! 

Share with me what you travel preparations you make before you embark on a trip! Do you have any tips for travelling? 

As always, thanks for reading! 

Have a lovely Sunday,

Love, 
Jennifer

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Knitted Pen Pouch for Midori Traveler's Notebook: Pattern

Hi! Hope you guys are having a great Sunday, or at least manage to sleep in until noon! As usual, Sunday is a busy day for me. I am writing more blog posts and scheduling it for the 2 weeks that I am in the US. Hooray for that! I am excited and can barely wait! :) 

Part of my traveling necessities now includes my trusty midori & fauxdoris. I am deciding how many I should bring along! I obviously didn't want to overload my luggage with all of them! I just created a nice pen pouch to carry my stationery securely when I am travelling. 

--


If you have a midori/fauxdori, you'd know that carrying a pen with the notebook is a bit of a hassle. You can tuck the pen under the rubber band, but I find that way a little insecure when you want to carry multiple pens along. (Those who colorcoded their writing and scribbles can relate to this.) I really do not want to throw them into my bag because it'll take ages to dig them out everytime I want to use it, and I am reluctant to put them in a pencil case when I only need 3 pens. And I don't want the look of DIY pen loops.

I saw a very classy leather pen holder by Foxydori on Esty here. Perhaps I'll buy it sooner or later, but in the meantime, I created a very pretty and easy to make knitted pen pouch that suit my purposes very well!


Materials you need

- Leftover yarn: I used Vera Moda Cotton Mini. Each skein is 25m. I used dark brown and beige so that it'll match my brown fauxdori. The yarn requires 4mm needles. I don't think I used more than 25m to make the pen pouch. 

- Yarn/cotton thread cutter. 

- 4mm needles: I used a pair of DPNs because I don't want to go to all the trouble to fix my circular needles. 

- Needle for weaving in the ends 


Dimensions of Pen Pouch

My pen pouch is 16cm x 4cm or 6.3inches x 1.6inches. It fits 3 pens perfectly, lying flat. If I have to redo it, I would probably make it shorter. Needless to say, the size really doesn't matter when making this pouch. 

You might want to take into account the number of pens you want to put in the pouch and make it according to size. I've noticed that if the pouch is not filled, the pens might slide out. On the other hand, you might consider sliding the pen handle outside of the pouch (see photo below). The 'holes' in the knitting will ensure that your pens stay securely where it is. 


Pattern for Knitted Pen Pouch

This is so easy that to call this a pattern is actually a joke. But just in case there are some who actually want something to base it on when they modify their pen pouches to their needs. (This is my first pattern so please be kind! :) ) 

Knitted Flat
Cast on 20 stitches. 
Work in stockinette stitch, with a knit row first. 
(Stockinette stitch is a repeat of alternate knit rows and purl rows.)
Continue until the needed height. I measured with the pens I intent to put in. 
Work in a last row of purl stitches. 
Cast off. 

To Make Up 
Fold the knitting into half with the smooth sides facing each other. 
Stitch one short side and the long side together.
Turn it inside out. 


Ways in which you can change the Pen Pouch

-Knit it in stripes 
-Try intarsia knitting to add a nice pattern
-Add cables to the knitting


That's all I have today! I hope you enjoy the pattern as well as the pen pouch! It'll certainly become a regular in my travels! 

If you're curious about my fauxdori, it is from PaperGeekMy. I bought several of them. The above is the Mocha Brown in saffiano leather. I absolutely adore it! You can view it on esty here. 

--

Have a great Sunday! 

As always, thanks for reading! I'd love to listen to your opinions and comments about the knitted pen pouch. And if there's anything unclear about the pattern, I'd love to clarify it! :)

Love, 
Jennifer

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Things I learnt from my Copperplate Class

Hi, everyone! It's Sunday again and it's time for another post! This week I'll be touching on the Copperplate class I attended last Saturday. 

Copperplate Worksheets by Dr. Gail


Why Copperplate? 
I started learning my calligraphy online, sticking to modern calligraphy because it is looser and it has no fixed format. However, I soon realised that there are so many different ways of doing modern calligraphy. There is no right or wrong, just a matter of individual style. I began seeking out a fixed rigid format I could work from in order to invent my own style of modern calligraphy. Copperplate is the obvious answer because it was popularly used for formal writing, such as wedding invitations. 

Copperplate Class 
My class is held by The Little HappyShop and taught by Dr. Gail Madalag. It is a 10am-4pm class, with a half hour lunch break. The class is small, just slightly more than ten people. Materials in the class include a speedball oblique, calligraphy pad, a plastic folder, walnut ink crystals and a glass jar, nikko G nib and Hunt 101 nib, as well as the class worksheets. The venue is a little out of nowhere, but thankfully I am quite familiar with the place since it was on same bus route to school.  True, I did got lost for about five minutes, but that's just me, I think. The class cost SGD$220.

Things I Learnt From The Copperplate Class

 

Spread tines for squared tops 
I have read a lot of instructions on getting the thick strokes squared on the top and the bottom, but somehow I just couldn't get it right. Sure I didn't get it right during the class, but after more practise at home, I finally got the hand of it! I am so happy to say that I am on my way to persistent and uniformed squared tops. Indeed when I look at my old calligraphy drills, I flinched. If I hadn't attended the class, I would still be stuck with my old ugly downstrokes. 

The paper in the back was my first try, while the one in the front was my third. You can see the improvement that I had made. :) 



Go Big before writing Small
The idea behind this is to get the form right first. When you are writing the letters big, you can see where you get it wrong better than when you are writing them small. In order to improve, you have to know where your mistakes are, and that means being able to see them. We practised writing each alphabet twice the usual size.

I am holding my pen wrongly
I hadn't put much thought into how I hold my pen until I attended the class. I thought that if the ink manage to flow, it means that I must be doing it right! But recently, I have been looking at ergonomic holders, and I noticed that the hand position on the pen itself doesn't look like what I am doing. Dr. Gail confirmed my suspicious when she taught us how to hold the pen. So now I am correcting my the 6-month habit that I had built up. It really is a good idea to attend such lessons, even if it is simply to confirm that you are doing things correctly. 

Written by Dr. Gail

Watching a Professional at work is Inspiring
It is different watching someone calligraphying on Instagram or youtube as opposed to in reality. It is awe-inspiring. Everytime Dr Gail writes something, the whole class went quiet and still. Dr. Gail even brush-lettered each of our names on our calligraphy pads! It is so beautiful! Look at the flourishes! 

My favourite part of the class is definitely where we get to try out Dr. Gail's own set of custom obliques! We are all drooling over her collection!! Indeed, I went home and bought three holders from TheCuriousArtisan. Currently all her holders are sold out, but Lennie said the second collection will be up in September! I can't wait! 

--

If you're interested in classes held by The Little Happy Shop, you can click here to find the list of workshops available. Also, follow Dr. Gail's Instagram here

I must admit, I am already considering taking an intermediate class next. 

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, and, as always, thanks for reading! :) 

Jennifer